The concept of Dying in the Great Lakes was initiated by BK Kumbi of Don’t Be Blind This Time. It brings together citizens from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda and their friends from around the world.
The aim is to raise awareness and stop the general indifference, particularly among the rest of the world, about the Great Lakes’ tragedy. More than 8 million lives have already been lost in the last two decades.
It is a public event against the indifference of the West to the suffering of Africans.
It is a claim to Western governments about their responsibilities in the plight of the victims of political and military leaders in the Great Lakes region they support.
It is an act of raising consciousness among the victims and their supporters to show that change depends on the determination of people.
It is a small scale visual representation of the tragedy that millions of Africans in Rwanda, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi experience since the 80s until today.
It is a testimony about one sad and revolting picture of the chains of production of electronic devices [iPad, iPhone, mobile, laptop, PlayStation, etc] that the Western world cherishes and cannot live without.
It is a way of honoring and remembering the millions of people who died in Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo since that the Ugandan president Joweri Museveni started his bush war in that country in 1981.
The victims include our parents, brothers, sisters, other relatives and friends who perished and continue to die even today under the hands of Kagame and Museveni military, militia and other security forces and network of criminals in the entire region.
Dying in the Great Lakes intends among others things to educate the general public by effectively telling its audience [even inspire them to Google and locate that region on a world map], that in that particular part of the world, millions of people are dying with a covered complicity of their governments, be it Western even African, this by their silence.
As for taking the envisaged visual representation of the tragedy to different places across the globe, this has from the start been part of the initiators line of thinking.
Discussions on how to hold similar events in any country where there could be interested parties around the world would be by reaching out to the organizing team by initially finding out online what has been so far written about “Dying in the Great Lakes.”
Stories about some victims that the event tries to remember and honor
Kasereka Roger was among the victims of Laurent Nkunda, Tutsi militia leader of CNDP.
He was murdered on November 5, 2008 in Kiwanja in DR-Congo.
A 14 years old boy was there.
He tells us about that day.
“We were locked in the house and could hear the gunfire all around. Mum was in the kitchen and dad close to the door.
Two men dressed in uniforms ‘camouflage’ and carrying weapons entered into our house, without saying anything.
Suddenly, they shot my mother touching her belly. She fell into the fire and died. They shot my father in the ribs and he died on the spot.
I wanted to tell the man to kill me too, but the other kids, who were with me did not let me do it.”
In the Eastern Congo province of Kivu, there is a mass grave with 10,188 people. They were all shot dead by the Rwandan army and its allies on October 29, 1996.”
Mitamba Uunda [18 years old], Lalia Bahati [20 years old], Machotzi Kinda [45 years old] were rapped alongside 68 other women in the night of June 4, 2011 between 8:00 pm and 10:00 pm in the mining area of Lwembe.
Some women died after the rape.
In 2004, Mazambi, a 5 years old girl, was found in a pond after 7 days. She had been beheaded and had her two legs cut off.
The old woman Leoncie Nyiransekerabanzi lived in Gitarama [Rwanda].
She lived peacefully cared for by her children, waiting to die of old age when the time would come.
When the 1994 war erupted she fled to Goma [DR Congo].
Within a few days she died.
Even today when her surviving children think about her they wonder how she died.
“Was she properly buried,” they wonder, or “was she buried like animals, meaning left in the open air to rot on the sun or perish eaten by wild birds?”
In Eastern and Northern Uganda 22 elderly women and children and men who were attending a funeral on 16/11/86 were murdered.
They included Ladit Olwoc Aloli, Mrs Tenna Acoko Apira, and Mr Abunery Okot.
In another trading centre where over 150 people were rounded and killed. Among them were Mrs Yolanda Akot and baby.
At Odudui East Uganda, 1989 the following were killed; John Moses Elepu, Nelson Otim, Joseph Onyolo.
In August 1990, in Amuru, Ms Apele was killed trying to resist government soldiers abducting her daughter.
In April 1991 at Burcoro, Mr Justin Okumu and his father Raymondo Okwera, were beaten to death by government soldiers, after Justin escaped from a government pit prison where many were buried alive.
Today there are millions of them in the Great Lakes.
They had lives, they were loved, and they had names.
“Indifference is a weapon of mass destruction.” BK Kumbi
Thanks to BK Kumbi, journalist Rosa Moro and her colleagues Martinez Dina, José Lucas Flavia Garrigos Jean Baptiste, Paquita Reche, Susana Suysulucha, Pedro Espinosa, organization Umoya, Madrid event was an overall success. Among other things more than 256 people signed the petition asking the African Union and Governments to acknowledge the Congolese genocide. It is expected that in the coming future there will be more involvement of ordinary and not so ordinary people around the world.
To sign the petition please go to http://www.dontbeblindthistime.org/.